Without editor Robert Gottlieb, contemporary classics such as True Grit and Catch-22 might not exist in the forms we know them—but that doesn’t seem to move him. In a rare interview for the Guardian, Michelle Dean visited Gottlieb at his New York home to talk about his long list of achievements, which he demurely brushes off; his forthcoming memoir; and why editors should lay low and let authors have the spotlight....more
Posts Tagged: The Guardian
An anonymous writer at the Guardian has a second career in erotica to fund their academic lifestyle, despite mixed reactions from colleagues:
Colleagues in the arts react with a strange mixture of nervous supportiveness and embarrassed indifference. If I bring up the subject (in private conversations off-campus, naturally), the conversation is swiftly curtailed.
For the Guardian, Alison Flood writes on the bias of the Oxford English Dictionary towards “famous literary examples” instead of the actual origin, resulting in the incorrect attribution of several still-used words and phrases to Shakespeare. Flood writes that there are multitudes of evidence showing earlier usages of phrases such as “wild goose chase” and “it’s Greek to me,” citing Shakespearean scholar Dr....more
The Dictionary of American Regional English, or DARE, has launched a campaign to save fifty words and phrases it deems are dying from lack of use, reports Alison Flood for the Guardian:
Although language change is inevitable, it’s too bad to see some of our most colourful expressions going out of use,” said Joan Hall, former editor of DARE.
Writing for the Guardian, novelist Val McDermid disputes the recent study which suggests that “literary” fiction readers are more empathetic than “genre” readers:
There is no doubt that, historically, there was a valid distinction. Nobody would attempt to suggest that there is an equivalence between Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf.
Why is Catch-22 so widely read? According to the Guardian’s Sam Jordison, Joseph Heller’s novel is powerful because its protagonist Yossarian is “an old-fashioned hero”:
Readers immediately cared about Yossarian, and his survival. Yossarian is the point of connection and understanding; a strong central fulcrum around which the chaos of the novel spins.
At the Guardian, Marta Bausells interviews Idra Novey about her life as a translator, the notion of vanishing, and the freedom of speaking another language. On writing her novel, Ways to Disappear, Novey recalls:
I wanted to surprise myself and burn down the house of fiction on every page, as much as I could.
At the Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced Pride and Prejudice sequel fleshing out the life of Mary Bennett—a character whose neglect is central to Austin’s plot:
The singularity of Elizabeth Bennett, after all – the reason she so often features in lists of our favourite literary characters – relies solely upon the relief cast by her dull sisters.
Colson Whitehead’s new novel, The Underground Railroad, was announced as an Oprah’s Book Club selection on the day of its release. Speaking to Michelle Dean in the Guardian, Whitehead discusses his reaction to the news:
“I called her back and she said: ‘Oprah.’ I said: ‘Shut the front door,’ because I didn’t want to curse.
According to an article by Alison Flood in the Guardian, library use in England has fallen almost 31 percent over the past decade, with one notable exception:
Adults in the least deprived areas of England saw their library usage decline the most over the decade, from 46.3% to 31.4%, while according to the report, library usage in the five most deprived areas of the country ‘remained reasonably stable.
Less than two percent of science fiction stories published in 2015 were by black writers. And a recent study found that black speculative fiction writers face “universal” racism—more damning evidence demonstrating the institutionalized racism in book publishing, and the importance of introducing more diversity at every level of the process....more
In a recent study, researchers found that people over fifty who read more—books in particular—lived an average of two years longer than those who didn’t read at all:
The researchers discovered that up to 12 years on, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die.
I love all my characters; every single person I write about, I love. So as I write them, I don’t care how badly they misbehave, because they are who they are, they do what they do.
In an interview with the Guardian, Elizabeth Strout talks about her latest novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, the importance of place in her fiction, and her writing process and career....more
At the Guardian, Tim Cooke investigates why writers’ experiences with homelessness and destitution fascinates readers:
So what is the attraction of being down and out? For some, the prospect of real, hard-hitting subject matter has proved irresistible, while for others the route to the streets has been paved with anguish.
Readers are shifting focus from outdated gender expectations and conceptions of identity, and as a result, complex, non-compartmentalized female friendships are blooming in fiction. Books about these friendships are spaces for female writers and readers to explore the complexity of their relationships and selves without the influence of men, whose presence can quickly turn a female character into a label (mother, daughter, lover, keeper) and distract from the potentially subversive nature of female-only friendships....more
Barriers for entering journalism are only increasing; according to a report, journalism has “a greater degree of social exclusivity than any other profession”. The Guardian’s Harrison Jones argues that if newsrooms do not attempt to invest in remedying this issue, the future of journalism is in peril....more
As part of its ongoing project to digitize its library of more than 80,000 manuscripts, the Vatican has recently digitized a 1,600-year-old edition of Virgil’s Aeneid. Only 76 pages survive what was likely a complete collection of Virgil’s work. Part of the drive to digitize comes from the hope that with digital copies of rare, ancient texts, scholars will not need to consult the actual manuscripts as much, which can speed degeneration....more
We would all love to pretend that we’re above the euphoric rush of gaining approval. But winning feels good, and writing that truth in its fullness is a key step to understanding it. For the Guardian, Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses his novel The Sympathizer and describes the fascinating sensation of learning that he had won the Pulitzer Prize:
I was writing emails when Facebook and Twitter began beeping and pinging, telling me that Something Very Important had happened.
The multifaceted Kirsten Dunst is going to direct a new film version of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and the lovely Dakota Fanning is set to star in it, the Guardian reports. “Dunst has co-written the film with Nellie Kim, while Fanning is a co-producer; shooting is scheduled to begin in early 2017,” the article said....more
Literature is full of imposters and noms de plume, from George Eliot to “Robert Galbraith” (aka JK Rowling), but JT LeRoy is something else. George Eliot never did high-end fashion shoots, or received backstage passes to U2 gigs, or was sent Kabbalah books by Madonna.
A rash of confessional memoirs by middle- and upper-class white women (think Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl) has repositioned feminism not as a political movement, but as a validation for extreme self-exposure. These books have some feminists wondering if they’re doing more harm than good:
What we are seeing now is feminism used as a brand; dislocated and disconnected from any collective political project.
… Initiation into the system of words Beckett was working with in the mid-1960s is more complicated, not least because the system was corrupted, a failure…
Over at the Guardian, Chris Power writes about the short prose of Samuel Beckett, from first attempts “stinking of Joyce” to the complete breakdown of language itself as presented by later work—its glory and difficulty and brilliance and frailty....more
If I can’t remember the words themselves, I can easily remember how I felt as I read them. And that’s always been my goal as a writer: to make readers feel as if they are in the world I’ve created, and that they want to stay there.
Elvis Presley’s lead guitarist passed away this week in Nashville at the age of 84, and in tribute the Guardian has published a piece discussing how the musician shaped Elvis’s country-blues rockabilly sound so evident in songs like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Mystery Train,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”
Scotty Moore’s legacy can possibly best be mapped through how he paved the way for other lead guitarists....more
During anti-government protests in the Ukraine in 2013 and 2014, Oleh Shynkarenko, a journalist and blogger, found himself turning to Facebook after some of his blog posts were deleted, presumably by security forces. What he shared was a novel about about a man whose brain was controlled by the Russian government, published in 100-word snippets on the social media platfrom (where authorities had less power)....more
For the Guardian, Alison Flood reports that users who share reading interests on a new dating app improve their chances of finding a good match:
I’m not sure about the sexy transformation, but I do know that whether it’s with a friend or a partner, there’s little better than discovering a shared love of an author, particularly an obscure one.